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Spam Your Rights Online

China Wants Out of Spam Blocks 404

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-bet-they-do dept.
SomeoneYouDontKnow writes: "Apparently, China is feeling the effects of the e-mail blocks Western ISPs are placing on Asian mail to prevent spam, as previously reported here. A group of Chinese legislators is calling for the blocks to be lifted because they're making it difficult for them to communicate via e-mail, and a signed article in The People's Daily is calling on China to ban spam. Maybe now some of the lazy admins of these spam-spewing mail servers will clean up their acts."
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China Wants Out of Spam Blocks

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  • by darn (238580) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:55AM (#3111037)
    I wonder if I can convince the EU to block all mail from USA. That is where I get almost all of my spam from.

    -----------
    Look at thyself before thou judge other
    • That's funny. Besides China/HK/Taiwan/Korea/Japan, I get a lot of spam from EU. Especially Denmark and Spain.

      However, at least some of the EU and USA ISPs respond to spam complaints. None of the Asian countries above have responded to spam complaints. It's not just a language problem either. I get (or used to get before my spam filters went up) technical requests (in English) from Asia as the result of USENET postings and FAQs I wrote.

      I'm hopeful that one or more of the Asian countries above will clean up my act and I can remove my spam filters.

      • Ethikul biznizmen (Score:3, Informative)

        by BlueUnderwear (73957)
        None of the Asian countries above have responded to spam complaints. It's not just a language problem either. I get (or used to get before my spam filters went up) technical requests (in English) from Asia as the result of USENET postings and FAQs I wrote.

        This phenomenon is known as the "ethikul biznisman" problem. Buy a PC in a shop in China, and the salesman's English will be quite adequate, and he will also understand what you are saying. But bring it back one week later because of a defect, and he no longer understands a word of what you say, and his accent goes to hell.

        As long as they want something from you, or they want to sell something, no language barriers exists. But as soon as you want sth from them, or have a complaint, then all bets are off.

        Best include a link to the above-mentioned People's daily article [zaobao.com] (translation [google.com]) in your complaint mail. They do understand your language, but they might not (yet) do understand the consequences of their (non)acts.

        • by abolith (204863)
          I had this propblem when I tried to return a new laptop I bought (it was a mega POS) but the guy could suddenly not speak english, so I made it appear like I gave up and was just looking arround the store. so he started yapping to his buddy in Japanese (yes i can speak it decently) about how dumb and clusless I was. Well after a few minutes of this I walked back up to the counter and asked in his own language if I could return it now that he was done insulting me.

          The look of shock is one that i will never forget!! I also got my money back. :)

    • Well it didn't take a very long time for this to get noticed and actioned by the Chinese. Just goes to prove, fear is a very powerful tool.
  • by Joe Groff (11149) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:58AM (#3111043) Homepage
    The Chinese government has constantly shown how terribly naïve they are with regards to the Internet.
    • They want to reap the commercial benefits without accepting the other consequences of a global computer network: namely, the inevitably open society the Internet promotes. Their feeble attempts at firewalling and sheltering their people are eventually going to collapse under the insurmountable weight of the reality that information wants to be free.
    • They want to use email, but can't accept that people don't want crap to be mass-mailed to them. This is a sure sign that China's only interest in the Internet is monetary, and that it is our duty to block off abusive .cn mail servers to show them that this bullshit doesn't play on the open Internet.
    China's always going to be in an awkward situation with regards to the Internet as long as they cling to their obsolete totalitarian, isolationist regime. Write your senators and tell them that all this dicking around with China is a farce, and must be stopped. Don't allow them on the Free Internet until they become a Free State, I say.
    • by PoshSpod (549405) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:48AM (#3111150)
      China's always going to be in an awkward situation with regards to the Internet as long as they cling to their obsolete totalitarian, isolationist regime. Write your senators and tell them that all this dicking around with China is a farce, and must be stopped. Don't allow them on the Free Internet until they become a Free State, I say.

      Oh, boy. Where to begin? I think my favourite part of you post was the last line. You misunderstand the idea of freedom if you assume that you must be free to oppress others. China has a dictatorial regime, true; but if the internet is free then it should be embrace it, just as it embraces pornographers, neo-Nazis, gun nuts, religious zealots and all of the other dreadful things that we tolerate under the banner of free-speech but really wish weren¦t there.

      Second point is this idea that we can force change onto countries by ignoring them. The Americans don't seem to have learned much from Castro in the last 30 years. If change is to be brought to China then the only options we have available are

      to allow it to come fully into the free world and evolve

      war. I know which option I prefer.

    • Don't allow them on the Free Internet until they become a Free State, I say.

      I wish you don't regard me as a communist when I say the contrary: how about Free Internet eventually makes them Free State?

      If you got to read the forums in China, you'd be suprise how people openly discussing all sort of matters, including (*can't say it or else they'll block /.*). Nobody speaks so openly before Internet, after Culture Revolution. You know I just feel like watching people demolishing Berlin Wall - but this time on the Internet.

      Sadly, sensitive issues like (*censor *) are still restricted, but it doesn't stop people speak it out, only all comments will be removed from forums, like some companies(*cough* sina.com.cn *cough*) do.

      The bright side is, they can still appear to the public, for may be several seconds, before they are being removed. This is a little spark of free speech that is growing among people. Better than nothing!

      Please, oh please, don't stop us using Free Internet. Don't squeeze the tiny little spark of freedom...
    • Can you read? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by autopr0n (534291) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @06:34AM (#3111596) Homepage Journal
      They want to use email, but can't accept that people don't want crap to be mass-mailed to them. This is a sure sign that China's only interest in the Internet is monetary, and that it is our duty to block off abusive .cn mail servers to show them that this bullshit doesn't play on the open Internet.

      The artical is talking about China banning spamming outright which is a lot more then any leader in the US is even willing to think about. They do accept that people don't want spam and are looking to an internal solution to the problem.
      • The artical is talking about China banning spamming outright which is a lot more then any leader in the US is even willing to think about.

        US leaders have more than thought about it. With the junk fax law (part of the 1996 Telecom Act), the United States has already banned spam sent over a phone line [pineight.com].

        • I wish the junk fax law would be applied to email, but for now we're getting things like making it illegal to forge headers and allowing an opt out list and that's it. And those are only state by state things.
    • Some of us Chinese happen to like the idea of a Free State and Free Internet. Shutting the *people* out of the internet is just reactive and bullying and doesn't help the people at all. If you want the Chinese to become free, you should be helping them to get as much of this "free information" as possible, not banning 1 billion people from it. And their reasoning for firewalling is control, not monetary.

      As for spam. Read the *&^%ing article. The people are trying to take steps to *reduce* spam. That is a good thing. It shows the policy of blocking China mail servers is having an effect.

      In a population of 1 billion, I can assure you that less than 0.01% of the population does not promote spam so be careful who you have a gripe with and who you want to penalise
  • spam (Score:3, Funny)

    by trelaneopn (563678) <trelane@magenet.com> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:58AM (#3111045) Homepage Journal
    dear america,
    this legitimate e-mail is not spam, it is a message from china to the united states, that has been repeated 5 billion times, once for each citizen in our overpopulated ineptly run third world country.
    due to the fact that we're too poor to build nuclear missles, submarines aircraft carriers etc, we have instead come up with the following excellent products for you
    1. PORN! (hell EVERYONE LOVES PORN)
    2. herbal viagra, (ancient chinese formula)
    3. aluminum siding (houseing value-added feature)
    4. free vacations to hong kong (beautiful city, except when it rains... a lot)
    please enjoy these gifts and products courtousy of china.

    this message is not spam to be removed from this mailing list...
  • by Murmer (96505) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:01AM (#3111059) Homepage
    ...that as much as you might joke that spammers should be lined up and shot, that gets a lot less funny when you're dealing with the Chinese government.
    • >...that as much as you might joke that spammers >should be lined up and shot, that gets a lot >less funny when you're dealing with the Chinese >government.

      I did not think that that was a joke at all.
    • ...that as much as you might joke that spammers should be lined up and shot, that gets a lot less funny when you're dealing with the Chinese government.

      Actually, it is quite easy to make it happen: if you get a spam from a Chinese open relay, first warn the admin. Give them a week. If the spam still continues, start sending mass-mailed anticommunist propaganda to random Chinese addresses through the same open relay. This will get that open relay shut down real quick.

      • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @02:53PM (#3113229) Journal
        If the spam still continues, start sending mass-mailed anticommunist propaganda to random Chinese addresses through the same open relay. This will get that open relay shut down real quick.

        Sorry, tempting as that tactic may be, it's an abuse of the random addresses in question.

        Depending on how much monitoring the thugs do, it may suffice just to send yourself anti-communist screeds periodically through the open relay.

        -jcr
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @09:32AM (#3111997) Homepage
      • as much as you might joke that spammers should be lined up and shot, that gets a lot less funny when you're dealing with the Chinese government

      In case anyone thinks you're being cute, it's entirely possible that spammers might be executed in China. A brief overview of the crimes that people have been executed for [commondreams.org] are:

      • Political activism
      • Murder
      • Rape
      • Manslaughter through drink driving
      • Pimping and forcible prostitution
      • Stealing cultural relics
      • Taking bribes
      • Tax evasion
      • Credit card fraud

      Surprised by any of the last ones? In 1979, there were 28 types of crime that carried the death penalty in China. By 1995, that had risen to 74, mostly by the addition of "economic offences". They admit to executing well over a thousand people a year (often after a public show trial or displaying the convicts in public places), and it's suspected that a lot more get a bullet in the head without even a record being made.

      Unfortunately, the USA has a policy of not criticizing China's execution policy (or that of any other state), as we have some cleaning up of our own to do. Engaging cynicism mode, you might ponder that the only part of it that our partially hereditary, 90% incumbent political class really object to is the crackdown on corruption and bribe taking, but of course, rank retains its priviledges in China, and the biggest criminals get jail time while their minions are executed.

      On the other hand, there is a certain horridly attractive efficiency to show trials and summary execution. Compare and contrast with the US system of interminable legal wrangling over minor technicalities, occasionally leading to fines that are either trivially small or unrealistically big, neither of which typically get paid.

      When you read the very occasional article that "Spammer X is fined Y dollars", remember that's just the first step in actually making them responsible for their actions. Even if you can get the fine to stick to them and not their shell company, if they don't pay to a third party or collection agency, they have to be brought back to court again, and it has to be proven that they haven't paid, at which they generally plead poverty and agree to pay off their $5 million debt at $10 a month. And if they don't pay that... you see where this goes? Judges are loathe to jail people over non payment of fines unless they're taking a political stand against them. It's only nice, police, law abiding folks that pay fines. If you want to keep pursuing a third party to make them pay, you have to keep paying up front to do so. The only winners are, as usual, the lawyers.

      • by Jack Auf (323064)
        So typically American - force your viewpoint and "morals" on others. Why, if they don't adhere to the practices that you deem acceptable then they are barbarians!

        Personally I think the US should be much more liberal with the death penalty, and actually carry it out once it has been issued, and not wait the usual 15 years. Maybe then it would be safe to walk the streets at night in US cities like it is in every mainland Chinese city I've ever been to.

        Of course you, never having been to China, wouldn't know that. So much easier to pontificate, isn't it?

          • So typically American - force your viewpoint and "morals" on others

          Funnily enough, I'm not a citizen of the USA, but I'm writing for the benefit of the majority Slashdot audience. Oh, feel free to share (not force) your viewpoint on us.

          • Personally I think the US should be much more liberal with the death penalty, and actually carry it out once it has been issued, and not wait the usual 15 years

          And personally, I agree with you, for crimes where violence is used or threatened. That includes corrupt abuse of power by politicians and law enforcement. It does not include tax evasion, fraud, or property theft. I have no problem with the method, only the application.

          • Of course you, never having been to China, wouldn't know that. So much easier to pontificate, isn't it?

          Mmm, it would probably be petty and pointless to mention a one week business trip to Beijing, right? Unless I use it as an opportunity to mention how taken I was with the city, and yes, how safe I felt there.

          You'll note that I agree that the US legal system is a joke when it comes to dealing with petty crimes. I also agree that executions should be carried out quickly. The idea that a capital crime should be more appealable fundamentally wrecks the whole concept of a criminal legal system that deals in innocence and guilt. While I'm at it, I'd like to see public physical punishment be used for minor crimes. Yes, aka torture. Most truly successful systems of social justice used limited physical violence quite successfully before liberals and lawyers decided that was bad for Freedom and business respectively.

          If you go back and read what I wrote, you'll find that it mostly consists of some easily verifiable statements of fact. They will no doubt affirm the preconceptions of some readers, but do please bear in mind that I am pointing out that the US government is only better (or worse, depending on how you feel about hypocrisy) by degree regarding executions, and that I do try and present a gentle counter that suggests that maybe the US system isn't all peaches-and-cream.

          Or, I could just have launched into a pontificating attack. Would that have provoked thought, or just attracted denial and spite, do you think?

    • > as much as you might joke that spammers should be lined up and shot, that gets a lot less funny when you're dealing with the Chinese government.

      I was gonna suggest that if they can't recoup the costs of the bullets through selling live streaming video, they could harvest the organs and sell 'em for transplant.

      But spammers have no brains, heart, or balls, so those organs are off the list.

      Going down the list of organs that I've seen working on spammer bodies, we're down to one possible use. Colostomy patients who need asshole transplants. And it'd still be an insult to the transplant recipient's own shit.

      Oh well, it was a good idea while it lasted. Back to the streaming video idea.

  • by Romancer (19668) <`moc.roodshtaed' `ta' `recnamor'> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:01AM (#3111061) Journal
    If you have a problem you fix the problem.
    We fixed a problem of recieving spam from their open relays by blocking them from sending to us.
    We asked them to close their relays and they said no or didn't respond, so we blocked them.

    Now they want us to unblock them and the answer seems fairly obvious to me. NOT until you close your relays which is why you are blocked!

    Quote: "Peter Lovelock, director of Beijing-based consultancy MFC Insight, said the National People's Congress might be swayed to pass laws calling for more rigorous management of Internet-linked servers in China in order to avoid international embarrassment."

    If it's such a problem that your "Chinese legislators" are getting involved they should stop complaining that they're bring punished and fix the problem.
    • If you have a problem you fix the problem.
      We fixed a problem of recieving spam from their open relays by blocking them from sending to us.
      We asked them to close their relays and they said no or didn't respond, so we blocked them.


      I wonder if the trick might be to write mailservers that backtrack the email's headers and check for open relays before passing it on. No need to have an actual list, it would be automagic!
      • The problem with that approach is that two mailservers with "backtracking" enabled would beat each other to dead checking one another before a single mail actually gets delivered...

        Server 1: open connection to server 2, wants to send mail.
        Server 2: gets request from server 1, opens connection to server 1 to check for open relay
        Server 1: gets request from server 2, opens connection to server 2 to check for open relay
        Server 2: goto step 2, repeat ad infinitum.

        • This isn't a fatal flaw with the idea at all. In fact, if this happened, it would mean the guy who wrote the mail server was a nitwit because he didn't take the most obvious precautions to prevent loops. There are several trivial ways to do it:

          Keep a list of servers that you're currently in the process of validating. If a relay check request arrives from one of them, send a response without bothering to send out a redundant second relay check request (this is just common sense). This would always stop the loop on its second hop.

          OR

          - Get request from server X
          - Check to see if X appears in local cached list of blacklisted servers.
          - If not on list, generate random number t between 0 and 1.
          - If t is below some fixed threshold, open connection to X to check for open relay. If t is above the threshold, just forward the email even though it might be spam.
          - If X is found to be an open relay, add X to blacklist. Otherwise forward the email.

          Loops would still occur but they would go extinct fairly quickly. Some spam would get through at the beginning but a torrent coming from a single relay would get that relay added to the blacklist cache almost immediately.
  • Actual URL (Score:5, Informative)

    by wenzi (6465) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:05AM (#3111069) Homepage
    Here is the actual article ( if you can read chinese, sorry ) http://www.southcn.com/it/ittout/200203050573.htm
  • Maybe ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:14AM (#3111096)
    "Maybe now some of the lazy admins of these spam-spewing mail servers will clean up their acts."

    Maybe some of these admins ARE the spam-spewing individuals.

    ~LoudMusic
  • by PoshSpod (549405) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:29AM (#3111106)
    I know that I've said things like this last time this was discussed but these 'spam' blocks are unfair and deny the point of the internet.

    I live in Hong Kong and because of them I can¦t get e-mail through to some of my family and friends. Now I¦m a decent person, I post to /. send in bug reports for open-source software and I¦ve never spammed anyone in my life but I still have to suffer these restrictions.

    The whole joy of the internet is that anyone can communicate with anyone else. If an ISP were to put a blanket ban on certain websites because a few of them throw up annoying adverts there would be outcry. Freedom of communication is considered important enough that people just have to deal with the annoying side effects themselves. Why is this not the case with e-mail as well?

    I hope that China does something about spam mail but this really is not the way to encourage it.

    • but please blame the spammers, and the lazy admins who don't stop them, not their victims.

      Spam basically makes email useless, it is certainly not the near real-time media it used to be. Blacklisting can make email almost useable again. Of course, it is nowhere near as useful as before the spammers took over, but at least the signal no longer totally drowns in the noice.

      Unless something effective is done to spam at the political level, we probably soon have to either give up email entirely, or switch to whitelists. With whitelists, only people in your address book can send mail to you directly. Other people may be able to come through after various kinds of verification. This will cut of many once useful features of email, but at least some core functionality will survive.

      Please do not blame the people who try to make email survive in spite of the spam onslaught. Without these people, email would die.
    • by dubl-u (51156) <2523987012NO@SPAMpota.to> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @04:01AM (#3111183)
      I live in Hong Kong and because of them I can¦t get e-mail through to some of my family and friends. Now I¦m a decent person, I post to /. send in bug reports for open-source software and I¦ve never spammed anyone in my life but I still have to suffer these restrictions.

      I'm a decent person, but for years I've lived in bad neighborhoods. Many of my friends aren't comfortable visiting me. Is that unfair? Or just reasonable behavior?

      Regardless, my whining doesn't make them come visit me more often. So a few years back I moved to a slightly better area and I do what I can to make my new 'hood safer still. Perhaps you could try that? Given your location and your language skills, you could be a big help to the anti-spam community.

      I hope that China does something about spam mail but this really is not the way to encourage it.

      That's a nice thought, but utterly wrong. Something like this is the only way to encourage it. Chinese spammers have been a problem for quite a while, but a gazillion complaints had as much effect as the chirping of sparrows. It's only widespread blocking that has made the government sit up and take notice.

      It's sad that it had to come to this, but the only lesson to learn is that ignoring spam doesn't make anything better; the longer you wait, the more painful it is to clean up.
    • Softhome [softhome.net] has free POP3/SMTP service. If you have a mail server you could set up restricted relaying.
    • It's also unfair that Chinese mail servers leave the door open for spammers, whether in China or outside, to send huge volumes of junk. It's also unfair that people like yourself who live in China are not doing more to get the problem fixed. The news article this whole thread started from does indicate some people are recognizing a problem, although they still don't seem to fully understand it. Maybe it will be hard for you to get the Chinese government to crack down on the open relays. It won't be any easier for someone from the United States to do so.

    • I live in Hong Kong and because of them I can't get e-mail through to some of my family and friends. Now I'm a decent person, I post to /. send in bug reports for open-source software and I've never spammed anyone in my life but I still have to suffer these restrictions.

      There are two things you can do:

      • Ask your ISP to close the open relays
      • Switch ISPs

      When you continue to pay your ISP without complaining YOU are part of the spam problem. You help paying the spammers.

      So, yes, the blocks are completely fair.

    • There are lots of free web-based email servers out there, like yahoo.com. Get an account there to send mail from.
      • by ErikZ (55491)
        You should read up on China's Internet restrictions.

        All web based email is banned. You just can't go to the sites. Many political sites are banned. Many TOPICS are banned. They're on the cutting edge of scanning email for inappropriate words. Which is amazing considering email/internet is packet based.

        Why do you think there was the big crack down on cyber-cafes? Did they ever let them open up again?
        • All web based email is banned. You just can't go to the sites.

          So, if you're fed up of China based spam, just set up a public webmail service. Or just a proxy tunnel to yahoo.com. After that, the Chinese government will just firewall your netblock, and presto, no more sino-spam!

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coffee Warlord (266564) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:29AM (#3111107)
    Does anyone else find it ironic that China is complaining about internet traffic restrictions?

    Pot. Kettle. Black.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Rogerborg (306625)
      • Does anyone else find it ironic that China is complaining about internet traffic restrictions?

      Does anyone else find it ironic that the USA is too ignorant to distinguish between Chinese academics and the Chinese government.

      What's that you say? You personally don't represent the entire USA? Well, shucks, maybe that's true for people in other countries too.

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <[maxomai] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:33AM (#3111114) Homepage
    Hm. "Send spam, get shot in the back of the neck." I like the sound of this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All those emails trying to be sent but they can't because they are blocked... Keep on doing this for a while and they may just blow up.

    On a different tone, if we can't ourselves pass any meaningful legislation here, why do you expect them to clean up? Given the fact 99% of the fucking spammers are from right here, the gun loving US of A, the problem with the open relays in China is just a side effect. If we had the proper laws here, maybe Sendmail would not come with relay disabled by default. We would all spend all the time dealing with this crap doing something more useful.
  • by dananderson (1880) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:40AM (#3111129) Homepage
    "[In the] People's Daily, Xu Detian called upon the National People's Congress to pass a law banning the sending of junk e-mail."

    This reminds me of my days in grad school in the early 1980s. I had two Chinese roommates. They subscribed to People's Daily to learn English (even though it had spelling and grammar errors, it was probably a good idea).

    Anyway, after a while the paper began to sound repeative. It would continaully brag about some "new effort" to do something such as "end corruption" or "end pollution" or "improve education." That was done by passing laws saying "don't do this" or issuing a directive to "do that." Nothing would actually hapen, it appears, as I would read about a very similar effort a few months later.

    So, although the Chinese are beginning to realize they need to do something about spam, don't hold your breath. Hopefully, they will come around some year to doing something effective . . . such as having ISPs actually respond to abuse reports and close open relays, for example.

  • Korea (Score:3, Informative)

    by nzhavok (254960) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:46AM (#3111142) Homepage
    is the country that spams me the most. Usually get between 1 and 10 per day from there, half of them porn. I mean spam is bad enough but Korean porn? Give me a break please!

    Probably along the line of china, the admins probably don't speak english or else couldn't give a shit to stop the spammers because I just keep getting it.
    • Re:Korea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Erik Hensema (12898) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @05:17AM (#3111419) Homepage

      Probably along the line of china, the admins probably don't speak english

      Idea: can somebody who speaks chinese write a standard complaint about an open relay in chinese? Just leave a blank where we can fill out the IP address.

      If we've got such a standard template, the language barier is effectively broken and we're a (very) small step closer to a clean internet.

    • but then again, if you're going to look at porn you might as well make it Korean porn.
  • by JohnBE (411964) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:48AM (#3111148) Homepage Journal
    Why do we always tiptoe around China's sensibilities?

    We aid them block so called subversive sites from their entire country, we tolerate crackdowns on their populace, we paper over the facts, we supress demonstration when their officials visit our countries, we tolerate the occational nuclear secret heading their way and we've forgotton about Tienemen Square.

    Why? Are they as bigger threat as Russia was? Are they capable of collapsing the Western economies with the stroke of a pen? No! Their near slave labor, poor working conditions and semi-rural economy is the cheapest place to make our goods. That's all. If you want the support of the west just open up your market, keep prices cheap and keep production up.

    This spam blocking is another way of making China comfortable. Maybe we are doing the right thing and eventually (because of the increased trade) they'll become just like us. We'll just have to wait and see.
  • According to a report last month on Wired News, a growing number of network administrators in the United States and Europe have begun blocking e-mails from servers in China, Taiwan and Korea.

    I've been blocking China (including Hong Kong), Taiwan, and Korea, for nearly 2 years now.

    "The majority of the junk mail (is) not created in China, so why (should) they block mail from China?" said Zeng Xiaozhen, a professor at Jilin University in the northeastern province of Jilin. He said spam was a global issue and China should make a law to punish creators of junk e-mail.

    First of all, I am not blocking mail from China; I am blocking mail from SMTP connections with a source address in the IP assignments to China, regardless of where it comes from. My preferred method of filtering is to prevent the delivery of spam in the first place. That means I block it by IP address or validated domain name. Mr. Zeng Xiaozhen needs to understand that the issue is about open relays, which intermingle mail originating from China, and mail being relayed by spammers.

    Separately, in a signed article posted on the Web site of China's party mouthpiece newspaper, the People's Daily, Xu Detian called upon the National People's Congress to pass a law banning the sending of junk e-mail.

    More of the spam from Chinese mail servers originates from other countries because the servers are open relays. They need to outlaw open relay servers, perhaps with some very harsh penalties.

    Also, since most of the open relays are older versions of Microsoft Exchange Server, it appears that software piracy is a big key here. I would assume that software systems Microsoft has sold in China came with documentation in Chinese. Pirate software often comes with little or no documentation. And what it does come with may not be the Chinese version in the first place, making it useless unless the administrator reads English (assuming most pirated software has some of that). If the Chinese government were to crack down on not only misconfigurations of mail servers, but also the use of any pirated commercial software (especially that connected to the internet), I think it would go a long ways to solving these problems. If the businesses doing this cannot afford a licensed copy of Microsoft Exchange server, maybe they need to switch to a system like Linux and use one of the Exchange-like clones, or ordinary mail software.

    • More of the spam from Chinese mail servers originates from other countries because the servers are open relays. They need to outlaw open relay servers, perhaps with some very harsh penalties....

      ...If the Chinese government were to crack down on not only misconfigurations of mail servers, but also the use of any pirated commercial software ...


      Calling for a repressive government to "crack down" on its citizens in the name of spam control and software piracy is absolutely disgusting. Have you completely taken leave of whatever shred of empathy you may have once posessed? Come on, man, think! Is imprisonment or execution really appropriate punishment for such "crimes" as spamming, running an open relay, or software piracy? Is that really what you think?
  • by Francis (5885) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @03:58AM (#3111173) Homepage

    You know, it wasn't that long ago that someone pointed out how hard it is to be removed from spam lists [slashdot.org].

    That aside, I've always wondered why people get so upset over spam. It's not that hard to hit the delete button. I get about 10 spam mails a day. It takes about 1/2 a second to read the subject, realize it's spam, and hit the delete button. Over the course of a year, I lose 30 minutes. That's not such a big deal to me.

    What does irritate me is I'm a victim of spamguards, on both ends. My web hosting service (yahoo) for unknown reasons is listed on 1 spam list. I've tried - there seems to be no way off the list. So, occasionally, I run into an institution which has walled me off.

    What makes me even more angry, is that my school where I did my undergrad, (UWaterloo) has implemented global "spam protection." And so now, I can't receive emails from some of my contacts.

    It's about the right to choose. I want to be able to control IF my email gets spam filtered. I'm willing to give up those 30 minutes a year in order to communicate with people. As someone pointed out, that's the beauty of the Internet. If I want spam filtering software, I'll install it myself. I don't want someone else to make that choice for me. We, as users, are losing our freedom too. I'm shocked that noone seems to notice or care.

    • by Rhys (96510)
      It's their system, it's their right to choose not yours. Run your own linux box and accept spam from who you choose. Until that point, bitch no more.
    • Bandwidth isn't free. Spam takes up bandwidth. Sure, it doesn't take up a lot of yours, and you're probably paying by time, not by usage, but not everyone is. Major backbones get bogged down in it. AT&T's Worldnet e-mail had delays of up to a day because of spam. It gets expensive. It's not simply "deleting 10 messages a day," for anyone except the end user.
    • First of all, deleting a spam message takes much more than 1/2 second if you count starting up the mailer every time you see the "you have mail" message and it turns out to be newly arrived spam.

      Second, if you get 10/day, you actually don't have much of a spam problem compared to usenet regulars etc. I get hundreds of pieces of spam per day which is less than a lot of other people get. I manage to filter about 75% of it but the rest still takes much more than 30 minutes/year to deal with.

      Third, even if it's just 30 minutes a year, which 30 minutes is it? A pinprick to the butt is much less annoying than one to the eyeball. An incoming email is an interruption almost like a phone call, breaking your train of thought and interfering with your work. A 5-second interruption several times a day is much worse than, say, no spam at all during the entire year except you're required to spend 2 hours on April 15 (tax day) looking at spam.

      My filters get rid of lots of spam but occasionally catch a legitimate message, so once a week or so I spend a few minutes looking over the filtered messages. Batching them like that reduces the spam annoyance factor a lot, but it destroys the immediacy of the legitimate email.

      The reason yahoo is on spam lists isn't unknown--it's obvious. Insane amounts of spam comes from yahoo addresses and has no signs of slowing. The obvious solution for you is get an address from a more responsible provider.

      • The reason yahoo is on spam lists isn't unknown--it's obvious. Insane amounts of spam comes from yahoo addresses and has no signs of slowing. The obvious solution for you is get an address from a more responsible provider.
        Because of the way SMTP works, this is not the case at all. Here is how it works: When a SMTP connection is made to send an email, the person sending the email can put any old email address as the return address. In addition, many ISP have set up spam filters which require the return address of a piece of mail to come from a domain that resolves. This encourages spammers to put in a forged return address, such as name@yahoo.com.

        The other advantage of name@yahoo.com style email addresses is that the email address is more likely to look legitimate to many users of the internet.

        However, these emails are not coming from yahoo.com; usually the Yahoo address in question points to a Yahoo address that does not exist. What the spammers do is this:

        • Send a forged email which has a false yahoo.com return address.
        • Find an open relay somewhere on the internet to spew the email in question.
        • Send off the email to zillions of netizens.
        • Laugh as Yahoo instead of the spammer responsible for the spam gets the majority of the complaints.
        As a matter of fact, Yahoo has a system which stops people from automatically getting new Yahoo email addresses.

        Now, as it turns out, SpamAssassin is smart enough to see whether a return email address with yahoo.com in it is forged; one needs to look at the "received:" headers to determine where the email really came from.

        In conclusion: Yahoo is not in any way, shape, or form responsible for spam which has a yahoo.com return address on it; perhaps spammers should start spewing out large quantities of email with your domain as the return address on it so you know what it is like to be falsely accused of being a spam haven.

        Now, if only DNS had an "outgoing MX exchange" record which made this kind of filtering easier.

        - Sam

    • by Lish (95509) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @04:45AM (#3111333)
      It's not that hard to hit the delete button. I get about 10 spam mails a day. It takes about 1/2 a second to read the subject, realize it's spam, and hit the delete button.

      That's all well and good, until you start getting your email on your cellphone or wireless PDA, and you're paying for every byte you receive. Then, we're talking real costs beyond just the time wasted.

      If you had to pay for every one of those 10 spams a day, would you be as willing to put up with it?
      • It's not that hard to hit the delete button. I get about 10 spam mails a day. It takes about 1/2 a second to read the subject, realize it's spam, and hit the delete button.
        That's all well and good, until you start getting your email on your cellphone or wireless PDA, and you're paying for every byte you receive. Then, we're talking real costs beyond just the time wasted.
        Even more importantly, you shouldn't have to sit and tap delete. If I'm spending half a second evaluating whether each message is legitimate or not, it's entirely probable that I'm going to accidentally delete the wrong message.

        Not receiving or answering the wrong email could do serious harm to my livelihood. It could result in an unmet project requirement. In an extreme case, it could cost me my job.

    • More and more spam these days has clever subjects and/or sender names that make it harder to tell it's spam at first. Many people get high volumes of mail and can't spend the time to look at the subjects first, anyway. Your 1/2 second estimate is way off the mark. It's more like 10 seconds on average.

      I block almost all spam directed to me at the server, because there is so much. I never get it in my box at all. But based on the 34,000 delivery attempts from 1 July 2001 to 31 December 2001, I would be spending more than a week every year just deleting spam. And that's if I stay awake 24x7. Looking at it another way, it's $18,000 out of my pocket if it were to take up my consulting time. So I let my servers do the deleting for me.

      But this is all different for different people. My email address has made the rounds and is on a lot of lists. Yes, it is about the right to choose and it's OK for different people to make different choices.

    • I get about 10 spam mails a day

      Lucky you. More than 60% of my
      daily mail was spam before I
      started using very strict filtering.

      Seriously, I'm tired of the people telling me to
      "just hit delete".
    • It's about the right to choose. I want to be able to control IF my email gets spam filtered.

      So who's stopping you? You can run an SMTP server and do anything you want with your incoming mail.

      Or, if you're too lazy and stupid for that, just switch ISPs.

      But to demand that an arbitrary ISP should be forced to pipe spam through to you is as silly as demanding that the New York Times run the column your cousin writes for the Louisiana Southern Tech campus paper. You can choose to see that column if you want to, but not everyone is required to specifically enable it.

      • But to demand that an arbitrary ISP should be forced to pipe spam through to you is as silly as demanding that the New York Times run the column your cousin writes for the Louisiana Southern Tech campus paper. You can choose to see that column if you want to, but not everyone is required to specifically enable it.

        Faulty anology - very faulty. What if he subscribes to the email newsletter for his cousin's column, but his ISP blocks his cousin's college's mail server?

        Do you really claim it is unreasonable to expect "any arbitrary ISP" to deliver email to you that you had asked to be sent? Is that really your claim?
    • I used to get about 20 spams a day at my old address. I would also travel for weeks at a time. 20 deletes per day may not seem like much, but coming home after two weeks to 280 pieces of spam and one important message *somewhere* inside of it all is a real pain. If your ISP is incapable of the simple acts of configuring their servers to only transport mail for authorized people, and TOSing those people who do spam, then you need to find a better ISP. This is not just about the right to choose, but balancing that with the responsibility to choose wisely.
    • Consider the situation for someone else.

      I receive roughly 500 spam messages a day, partially because my email address is and has to be public (I want to receive bug reports and patches for my software), and partially because I'm on a couple of mailing lists, some of which are even gated to spamnet (formerly known as usenet, yet another formerly valuable resource spammers managed to destroy completely).

      Furthermore, since I'm in Europe, I've had to pay for my net connectivity (yes, including receiving spam) per minute until June last year [and people outside the big cities still don't have the option not to pay per minute].

      I'd say in total, spammers have cost me more than 200 hours and roughly $100 just for the year 2001.

      And since laws aren't sufficient, there's not too much I can do about it ("Sure you can sue them for $500, but you'll have to cover court and attorney fees, approximatley $50000.")

      Furthermore, some spam is really disgusting - e.g. last week I received a piece of spam just this morning that contained a meta refresh tag that would have redirected me to a porn site automatically if I were using some stupid HTML email client.

      I reported them to the police for probably sending pornographic material to children (because spam will always get to kids), and their response was along the lines of "just hit delete".
      • It's not that hard to hit the delete button [...] What does irritate me is [that as a Yahoo! user] I'm a victim of spamguards [...] It's about the right to choose

      I do take the point that filtering breaks the traditional model of the 'net, but that "traditional" model was largely set up RFC's that came out of academic institutions, and now that so many of these institutions (as you say) are filtering, perhaps the basic model has changed. We've moved away from an assumption of innocence, simply because when it met the cold reality of the Average Human Being, it became economically and socially unsustainable.

      But that's not what you're talking about at all. You're only interested in your freedoms. Are you saying that you don't have the right to choose to pay for a mail service that uses your money to pay to handle unfiltered spam traffic?

      Of course not, you're on Yahoo!. What you're saying is that you want a completely free-as-in-beer service, but that you want them to pick up the bill for handling spam to protect your free-as-in-speech experience.

      Sounds to me like you're not pro-choice or pro free-speech at all. You're pro-beer. Last I checked, 'net access wasn't a right, not is it enshrined that it should be free-as-in-beer.

      Incidentally, I put myself through university in the early 90's, when the net was free as in speech, but definitely not as in beer. If you want a free as in speech 'net experience, you can still do what I did, and choose to pay for access to it. If you choose not to pay, then you're hardly in a position to complain that you're not getting your money's worth.

    • by arkham6 (24514) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @10:04AM (#3112129)
      Its worse than you think. Just for yourself, thats one thing, but when you look at it in another light, its far far worse.

      Lets say you work for a large company, with say 10,000 people. 10,000 people * 10 spams a day (low number, but lets go with that for now) = 100,000 spam emails a day. Thats a lot of spam. Now, lets say that each spam is about 10kb. 10kb * 100,000 spams = 1000000kb, or (1000000/1024) 976 megabytes of spam. Almost a gig of spam a day.

      Now your company does not have a free pipeline to the internet. Lets assume for the sake of argument that they have to pay by the meg. Lets (wildly) assume that your company has to pay 15 cents per megabyte of traffic through their ISP. .15 * 976 = $146.40. That may not sound that much, but over the course of a year that makes out to be about $53,436.

      Of course, thats just in internet feed charges. Assume that it takes the average person one second to read and delete a spam. With an average of 10 spams a day, thats ((10,000 * 10)/60) 1666.67 minutes per day, or 27.78 hours per day wasted on spam. Say the average person makes $20 dollars an hour, or about $40,000 a year. 27.78 * 20=$555.56 a day in lost time. Over a year, thats $202,777.78 in time lost to spam. Ouch.

      So all those penis enlarger and diet spams are costing your company $256,000 a year. Multiply that by all the companies in the world that get spam, and you have a major financial burden.

    • by ktakki (64573) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @11:41AM (#3112634) Homepage Journal
      I get about 10 spam mails a day. It takes about 1/2 a second to read the subject, realize it's spam, and hit the delete button.


      Only 10 a day? You must be new.

      One of my mail accounts, a Hotmail address I've had since before the MSFT buyout, seems to show up on every single "20,000,000 Guaranteed E-mail Addresses!" CD-ROM out there. Hang on, I'll open it up...

      1513 junk e-mail messages since 28 Feb. 1513 in a week.. On top of this, there are at least 150 that have bypassed the junk filter. MSFT regularly shuts down this account because the volume of spam puts it over quota. Because of spam, this account is effectively trashed.

      Just hit delete. Just kiss my shiny metal...

      k.
  • Korea anyone? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JPriest (547211) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @04:01AM (#3111181) Homepage
    I'd say about 80% of my spam is from Korean schools. Here is a post from an abuse NG with a possible explanation for it. Myself and many others have tried a # of times to contact some of these schools for the last few months or so with no success.

    Subject: Re: Korean Schools Proxy Project?

    From Joel:
    "> It is possible that Appleton, Wisconsin, High School has an open connect proxy on port 3128 and the Tuscaloosa Unified School District has an anonymous mail relay.
    But, apparently, one group wired every K-12 school in South Korea and they made the same goddam error EVERYWHERE."

    RE: from Rob
    Thanks for explaining this, Joel. Somebody sent me a couple dozen spams (morts, credit card, work at home) in the last week, each relayed through a different Korean elementary school. None bothers to record the originating IP. Amazing.

    A letter to the ambassador is in order.

  • by wirefarm (18470)
    "The majority of the junk mail (is) not created in China, so why (should) they block mail from China?" said Zeng Xiaozhen, a professor at Jilin University

    Because it's being relayed through your servers, Zeng.

    (Don't you just *hate* it when people just don't get basic concepts like this?)

    Mr. Xiaozhen, Please take an hour, RTFM and close your open relays. Tell your friends to do the same. Until then, get yourself a Hotmail account - you're gonna need it.
  • by mosschops (413617) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @04:32AM (#3111290)
    Recently I was helping diagnose a problem with mail delivery to a friends machine. It soon became apparent that incoming connections to the SMTP port were being blocked. After contacting the ISP it was confirmed that it was a default anti-spam measure, but they'd be willing to test the server to ensure relaying was disabled, and then unblock the port.

    If Chinese ISPs were /forced/ to do the same thing it'd make clearing up the mess a lot easier. Legitimate, non-relaying servers would be opened back up, and it would leave the accidental servers inaccesible to spammers around the world. In fact, wouldn't this be a sensible policy for ISPs around the world?
    • We don't need the Chinese government to pass some law to make this happen - the free market *can* force them to do so, as the big Chinese ISPs get told "if you want to send mail to the outside world, you'll need to make your users block open email relays" - not told by the government, but by their service providers and by the big email sites in the outside world and the flood of bouncemails they get. And most of them will get the clue, and some of the rest of them, mainly smaller ones, will fail to get the clue and fail to communicate outside and fail at business. Or they'll get trashed by 31337 haX0rz having fun beating them up .

      Of course, it *would* help if somebody would translate a bunch of anti-spam configuration information into Chinese and Korean.

  • by smash (1351) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @04:37AM (#3111307) Homepage Journal
    They want their own network that they can control, censor, and make inaccessible from the outside?

    /me hands china a few subnets... 192.168.0.0/16, 172.16.0.0/20, and 10.0.0.0/8 :P

    smash

  • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @05:40AM (#3111461) Journal
    It's really sad. China goes to all this work to suppress free speech and free thought for their people by hiring big American companies to build censorship firewalls to limit their access. Does that work? We can't tell, because the flood of spam that they *are* shipping out drowns the real speech by Chinese people, and is encouraging far more sites in the free world to block Chinese email than the Chinese corrupt oppressive government was successful in doing. Open email relays are easily used to forward spam, but are also useful in evading censors. It's really shameful.

    Of course, if I wanted to put my Tinfoil Conspiracy Hat on, I'd say it was collusion between the unelected George Bush and the thugs in China's government to prevent cooperation between our democratic-leaning peoples, or some such rot. And if either side wanted to accomplish that, this might be the most effective way to do it. Truth is unfortunately stranger than fiction....

  • So we've used the stick and got their attention now. The aim of the spam guards isn't to hamper communication but to enforce compliance.

    So now how can we help them comply and get *.asia out of the spam blocks?

    What is needed are some good translations of a HOWTO which explains the problem and how to solve it. I don't speak an Asian language but I'm sure there are some who do. Step forward now and help translate such documents!
  • by aquarian (134728) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @06:01AM (#3111517)
    Chinese system administrators may be leaving their mail relays open on purpose, to escape liability for not filtering "properly." If they actively make decisions about who has access and who doesn't, then they're liable for those decisions, which could be dangerous under an oppressive government. So they refrain from making those decisions at all, and leave everything open to the four winds...

    They also may be trying to allow access to outsiders whose own networks may have been restricted somehow. All we see are the spammers, but there may be some important political or other communication going on here too, which they want to help keep flowing any way they can.


  • The key point is how effective this tactic has been, how often have we manage to 'persuade' a legislative to our view, within a week by conventional means (lobbies/petitions).
  • ...when you take down your Great Firewall.

    Until then, quit wasting our time.

  • by Sturm (914) on Tuesday March 05, 2002 @09:05AM (#3111895) Journal
    I've seen several threads on this story talking about the rights of the Chinese people, the rights of the Chinese government and people's right in general to communicate. But what about the rights of the ISPs that are getting spammed to death by open Chinese relays? Bandwidth costs money. Disk storage costs money. Admins taking time to play "whack an open relay" costs money. Responding to abuse complaints costs money. In our rush to protect the rights of indiviuals, lets not forget this issue isn't just about the rights of the Chinese people. It's also about the cost doing business and protecting the rights of people on this side of the pond.
  • China should look at SpamCop's weekly statistics [spamcop.net] on most exploited open relays, and then consider carefully whether or not this is "our" problem, or "their" problem.

    If you produce counterfeit bills and try to spend them at my store, and I ask you to leave saying "your fake money's no good here", would you really want to try to sue me into accepting your funny money?



  • find an open relay in the states and route all mail through it. hmm.. maybe a couple of open relays.
  • I admin multiple servers and would love to block all of China. Personally I've been doing on my own mail spools for years and I've never filtered one piece of mail that wasn't spam. If they ever want out of my blacklists, they are damned sure going to have to earn it.
  • Will the Chinese government crack down on open relays? Will it become a criminal offense? What if the Chinese government comes to view the problem as one of national security?

    The spam blocks, especially the DNS blacklists, are supposed to get the attention of the operator, so he will notice the problem and get it fixed. But it seems that it is the Chinese government that has taken notice. Is imprisonment a suitable punishment for neglecting to close an open relay? How about execution? If the Chinese government moves in this direction, how much culpability for the human rights abuses that would result do the operators of the DNS lists need to bear?

    I am not attempting to hand out blame, I am just asking some interesting questions.

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